"Britain is an easy date. So how did Mitt Romney mess up so badly?" asks Jonathan Freedland:
So the big surprise in the opening ceremony is not what I expected. I thought Danny Boyle would set aside three minutes for a lavish video tribute to Willard Mitt Romney, thanking the Republican presidential nominee for doing what, until Thursday, neither David Cameron, Boris Johnson or Sebastian Coe had managed to do: silencing all but the grumpiest sceptics and uniting the British people in enthusiastic determination to enjoy the London Olympics.
After 9/11, the US Congress realized the need for in-depth knowledge of world affairs and advanced language proficiency and increased the Fulbright-Hays budget. This program "supports research and training efforts overseas, which focus on non-Western foreign languages and area studies."
Apparently the post-9/11 era is over now. A few days after Bin Laden's death, the 2011 Fulbright-Hays dissertation fellowships have been cancelled due to budget cuts. $5,800,000 had been estimated, when the US Department of Education invited applications in September 2010, while pointing out that "the actual level of funding, if any, depends on final Congressional action."
It's a disgrace that this prestigious and important fellowship program does not have secure funding.
I am quite excited that Germany participates in the Eurovision Song Contest with an original, charming and funny artist, who can actually sing and is a bit crazy and therefore represents the new Germany very well. Lena Meyer-Landrut will perform the song Satellite at the Eurovision Song Contest, which was written by an American-Danish duo.
Although for the first time in years, Germany deserves "douze points," I don't think Lena Meyer-Landrut will get them from the other European countries. Animosities against Germany are too strong. Most Europeans have stronger emotional ties to other countries.
And Germany's current economic and fiscal policies make us the new bad boy. The NY Times writes "Germany Begins to Shed Its Role as E.U. Integrator":
Resisting a bailout for Greece, digging in over economic policy and opposing parts of a strategy for Europe's growth, Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany will arrive Thursday at a European Union summit meeting ready to play an unfamiliar role: the bloc's naysayer. Once the invisible glue that bound the Union, German policy is now being dictated by less idealistic priorities rooted firmly by national interests.
I guess, we act now like a "normal" country. Well, so be it!
Germany's previously strong monetary and political support for EU integration did not make us popular enough to win the Eurovision Song Contest either. It just paved the way for German unification, but we got that now and have to focus on bigger national interests, like the Eurovision Song Contest and the Soccer World Cup.
My statements to the Russian English language TV station Russia Today probably cost us a few votes from Greek's Eurovision Song Contest community as well. The 10 minutes live interview took place last Friday. The video clip is from a weekly round-up and mentions just a few short statements of mine:
"We had ping pong diplomacy with China, and now we may soon engage in soccer diplomacy with Iran. Reports out of Tehran indicate that the US Soccer Federation has inquired about the possibility of holding a friendly with Iran sometime in October and November," writes Democracyarsenal.
Finally, Serbia is back in Europe. Stephen Castle and Steven Erlanger write in the NY Times:
Europe on Tuesday welcomed the arrest of Radovan Karadzic not just as a victory for international justice, but as a vindication of the Continent's favored political doctrine: soft power. (...) In the last few months the European Union has helped bring a pro-Western political party to victory in Serbia's elections while ensuring that it has powerful incentives to hand over war crimes suspects. The arrest of Mr. Karadzic demonstrates how effective the union's leverage can be, particularly with neighboring countries that have ambitions to join it.
Yeah, it only took a bit more than a decade...
But then again, how successful (and how costly) is hard power? Milosevic and Karadzic were not arrested during the many Balkan wars... (Well, obviously, without the wars, they might still be in power.) And capturing Saddam was much more expensive and demands from the US to a strong commitment to Iraq of at least a decade...